Running a business can be tough, especially when you’re a sole trader and do it all on your own. We’ve put together considerations tradespeople should make to reduce their risks…
Follow COVID-19 guidelines
The pandemic has changed the way we all run and think about our businesses. In the United Kingdom, most tradies worked through the initial lockdown, and right now, the government advises that tradespeople can continue to carry out work in customers’ homes, as long as nobody has any coronavirus symptoms, and if they maintain a two-meter distance at all times. You can protect yourself by asking customers if they’ve had any symptoms before you arrive, and avoid entering properties where members of the household are self-isolating, except in emergencies. Wearing a mask can also help to protect you and your customers, and, of course, government regulations on handwashing and sanitisation should be followed.
Consider escrow payments
One of the biggest risks of being a sole trader is late or non-payments. If you’re not paid after spending four days on a difficult job, it can have a knock-on effect for the rest of your business and cause significant cashflow issues. According to one report, tradespeople are owned billions of pounds from consumers and businesses, so make sure you’re protecting yourself when you work on projects. Consider using the PongoPay tradesmen payments service, which asks clients to pay in advance and holds onto funds until you’ve completed the project. It’s a modern, stress-free way of accepting payments with no chasing needed.
Take out appropriate insurance
When did you last review your current insurance policies to ensure you’re properly covered for every eventuality? As a sole trader, it’s easy to assume that a standard tradesperson policy will be enough to cover you and your customers should something go wrong, but it’s rarely that straightforward. If you’re worried about your current cover, speak to a broker who can advise you on the policies you legally should have in place, as well as the nice-to-haves.
Partner with another tradesperson
What would happen if you were to fall ill and couldn’t get to your jobs for a week or two? Not only would you suffer from a loss of income, but you’d damage your reputation, as you’d have to let down clients who’ve paid for your services. Partnering with another tradesperson allows you to lean on them when you need time off work. You can still both run your own businesses and be self-employed, but have peace of mind knowing you’ve got someone to cover your clients should you be absent for whatever reason. You can do the same, and then benefit from their clients and work when they’re ill or need to take a last-minute break.
Build your online reputation
Though many tradespeople are reporting record growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the truth is that nothing is certain when you work for yourself. One day you might have to put clients on a waiting list, the next you’re struggling to make ends meet. One way that you can reduce risk and increase your chances of finding work is to build your online reputation. The stronger your online presence, the more likely you are to enjoy referrals from satisfied clients, and thus not have to worry about marketing yourself. Create a Facebook and LinkedIn page, use Google My Business, and ask your customers if they’ll leave a review.
Do you have any other tips? Let us know and check back soon for more!